A federal judge has ordered a Friday deadline for Louisiana to remove children from the state’s maximum-security adult prison at Angola. Chief U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick ruled that the practice violates the children’s constitutional rights and lambasted officials for the use of solitary confinement and other measures and the lack of mental health services. Rather than comply with the order, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration is requesting a stay. An Advocate editorial urges the state to come up with better juvenile justice policies other than locking up children in adult jails.
Ultimately, this is less about the law — though the legalities are important — than about the practical consequences of locking up juveniles without the discipline of education, mental health treatment and the other services that Louisiana can and should provide to help set these young lives on a better path, before it’s too late for them. You can’t handcuff them away from their futures, good or bad. The judge’s order should stand, but even if that reckoning is delayed on appeal, the state of Louisiana has to undertake a true — and we do not doubt, expensive — recommitment to the true principles of juvenile rehabilitation.
Where do candidates stand on temporary sales tax?
One of the early big decisions facing Louisiana’s next governor is what to do about a 0.45% state sales tax that expires in July 2025. The tax generates nearly $500 million a year that supports health care, education and other public services. It was supposed to be a temporary salve for the state budget while policymakers made permanent changes to the state tax structure, but those reforms never materialized. The Shreveport Times’ Greg Hilburn asked the leading candidates for governor if they want to renew the tax, replace it with other revenue sources or let it expire and force the Legislature to make corresponding cuts to the budget.
Two of the major candidates, Independent Hunter Lundy and Democrat Shawn Wilson, said they will advocate to keep the tax on the books to prevent possible budget cuts and to invest the money in vital services or raises for teachers and public servants like firefighters. Two more, Republican Sen. Sharon Hewitt and Republican Treasurer John Schroder, said they will absolutely allow the tax to roll off the books, noting Louisiana recently has been flush with budget surpluses and can absorb the loss of revenue. … Republican Stephen Waguespack didn’t rule out keeping the tax on the books but said it should be offset by reducing an equal amount of other taxes, like income.
Attorney General Jeff Landry did not answer the question.
Cash bail disproportionately impacts communities of color
Most people in jail have not been convicted of a crime, but instead spend weeks or months behind bars because they cannot afford to post bail. America’s cash bail system disproportionately affects communities of color, who are assigned higher pretrial detention penalties than their white counterparts. But Illinois is becoming the first state to abolish this system. The AP’s Claire Savage and Corey Williams report on the new system and the lives that have already been disrupted by the cash bail system in Chicago:
llinois’ Pretrial Fairness Act, which abolishes cash bail as a condition of pretrial release, will take effect Sept. 18, making Illinois the first state to end cash bail and a testing ground for whether — and how — it works on a large scale. Judges can still keep people accused of serious crimes behind bars pretrial, but first would have to go through a more rigorous review of each case. Critics say cash bail policies are especially unfair to Black people and other people of color. A 2022 federal civil rights report on cash bail systems found that courts tend to impose higher pretrial detention penalties on Black and Latino people, citing a study that showed Black men received bail amounts 35% higher than white men, and Latino men received bail amounts 19% higher than white men.
Raise the SSI asset limit
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides monthly payments to millions of American adults and children with disabilities – a critical financial support for families that struggle to make ends meet. But the asset limits for the program – how much a person can have in assets before benefits are reduced – haven’t been updated since 1989. The Urban Institute’s Chantel Boyens explains the broad benefits of increasing these limits:
Increasing the SSI asset limit would increase financial security and stability for beneficiaries and their families while generating administrative savings for the Social Security Administration. Combining it with other long-overdue updates to the program would cut poverty among SSI beneficiaries in half while reducing costs in SNAP and other income security programs. Ultimately, all these changes would play a vital role in the bettering the lives and increasing the upward mobility of millions of people nationwide.
Number of the Day
3 million – Number of children that would have been lifted out of poverty in 2022 if Congress had continued the expanded federal Child Tax Credit. Poverty among children more than doubled in 2022, to 12.4% from a record low of 5.2% in 2021. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)